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Fairfield, CT – The 2011 Northeast Conference softball champion Sacred Heart Pioneers will head to College Station, TX for the Regionals of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Joining SHU and Texas A&M at the regional site is LSU and Syracuse. The Pioneers will begin play in its second "big dance" in the last three years Friday, May 20th against the Aggies. Game time has been set for 7:00 pm CST.
Sacred Heart's (29-19) emotional day came to an end in the early moments of the annual selection show as the Pioneers learned their NCAA destination approximately 12 hours after being crowned the NEC champions.
"Everything about this selection and season is special," commented SHU co-head coach Elizabeth Luckie. "For the senior class to be playing in the NCAA tournament for the second time is a great accomplishment. We are looking forward to making the trip to Texas and having an unforgettable experience."
There will be another story line to follow in the regional as the NEC tournament MVP, Jen Russell (Seymour, CT), could face off against the highly touted Connecticut pitcher Rachele Fico (Oxford, CT), who currently plays for LSU. In Russell's senior year the duo was named co-players of the year by the Connecticut Post.
"It couldn't be any more appropriate that Jen could face-off with her archrival Fico on the big stage," said Luckie. "They played so close together at a high level in high school that it would be great to see them pitch against each other in a NCAA tournament game."
Sacred Heart's last trip to the NCAA Tournament came in 2009 where the program made history with a 3-1 victory over Cornell. The Pioneers dropped decisions in that regional to host UMass and to eventual national champion Washington.
Texas A&M finished the regular season third in the Big 12 Conference with a 41-13 overall record and a 13-5 mark in league play. LSU finished the year with a 38-16 record and were knocked out of the SEC tournament in a 9-0 defeat at the hands of Georgia. Syracuse won its second straight BIG EAST tournament title, closing out the year with 44 victories, including 15 BIG EAST wins.
Fans can get complete coverage in the days leading up to and during the event, including video blogs, at www.sacredheartpioneers.com.